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Wanted: A Nuclear Waste Solution to Replace Yucca Mountain

By August 30, 2009

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President Barack Obama's decision to abandon the proposal to develop Yucca Mountain as a repository for high-level nuclear waste has left the United States with "status quo" as the only current alternative plan for nuclear-waste storage and disposal.

Essentially, that means the waste has to stay put, right where it was created and is now stored--at more than 100 nuclear reactors nationwide, plus current and former nuclear weapons production facilities and military bases with nuclear-powered ships. That situation is causing concern among many politicians and their constituents as well as officials in the nuclear energy and nuclear weapons industries, according to a report by McClatchy Newspapers.

"We don't want to become a long-term repository without even having a discussion," said Gary Petersen of the Tri-City Industrial Development Council, near Hanford, Wash., in an interview with reporter Les Blumenthal of McClatchy. "All of this waste is supposed to be going to Yucca. Without Yucca, everyone in the weapons complex has a problem."

When Obama pulled the plug on Yucca Mountain back in February--fulfilling a campaign pledge--he promised to set up a federal commission to study the problem and develop a new nuclear-waste plan. So far, that commission has not been appointed.

Here is the problem:

  1. There is a lot of radioactive nuclear waste temporarily stored at sites all over the country.

  2. Leaving nuclear waste in place and transporting it to some central and supposedly secure location both pose public safety and national security risks.

  3. Nuclear waste can remain toxic, and potentially lethal, for 100,000 years or more (roughly equivalent to the length of time between the emergence of modern Homo sapiens and today), and no one knows whether we can safely store radioactive waste for that long.

  4. America is not going to stop producing nuclear energy and nuclear weapons; both are considered far too important to our national security.

  5. Nobody wants the waste, making nuclear-waste disposal one of the most controversial NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issues in history.

There are already about 63,000 tons of used radioactive fuel at 104 operating U.S. nuclear power plants; it is currently stored either underwater or in so-called "dry storage." Waste from nuclear weapons production, dating back to World War II, is an even bigger problem. It is currently stored at 16 federal sites in 13 states, although most of it is at Hanford in Washington state, the Idaho National Laboratory and Savannah River in South Carolina.

Quoting from the McClatchy article:

"At Hanford alone, there are 53 million gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste, 2,100 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel and nearly 2,000 capsules containing radioactive cesium and strontium.

"The biggest concern has been the liquid waste, stored in aging and occasionally leaking underground tanks. Current plans call for the waste to be vitrified, or solidified into glass-like logs, and shipped to Yucca Mountain. The logs would be encapsulated in two-foot diameter, 14.5-foot-long stainless steel containers that would weigh about four tons each. The waste treatment plant would generate about 480 glass logs a year and somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 by the time the last of the waste is processed.

"The waste treatment plant is scheduled to start producing glass logs in 2019. Yucca was scheduled to open sometime after 2020."

Yucca Mountain probably isn't the answer--it was always more of a political solution than a scientific one--but neither is "business as usual" with no effective backup plan. If Obama wants to eliminate one alternative for handling America's nuclear waste, then he needs to move aggressively to develop another, more workable solution.

Also Read:


August 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm
(1) Jim Baird says:

There has to be a tremendous economic inventive for anyone to accept nuclear waste in their backyard.
Using spent fuel to produce U.S. oil deposit would generate such an incentive

According to a U.S. Department of Energy report, the initial heat produced by U.S. nuclear waste will be on the order of 30 to 50 times the heat flux in the Geysers geothermal reservoir in California. According to The California Energy Commission, Geothermal Energy in California website, in 2007 California produced 13,000 gigawatt-hours of geothermal energy. Assuming the conservative estimate of 30 times this amount of heat flux for U.S. nuclear waste, 390,000 gigawatt-hours of energy is produced annually by U.S. waste. This is close to half of the power output by America’s operational reactors (806.5 billion kilowatt-hours (bkWh in 2007).

390,000 gigawatt-hours is the equivalent of 219,956,237.507 barrels of fuel oil (US). The energy return on investment for Shell’s In Situ oil shale method is roughly 3/1 so the heat flux of America’s nuclear waste therefore has the potential to produce over a 600 million barrels of synthetic oil annually.

The U.S. has approximately a quarter of the global inventory of spent nuclear fuel therefore the potential exists for the development of significantly more unconventional deposits with imported spent fuel..

Importing foreign spent fuel insures a terrorist or proliferator can never access the plutonium it contains. Using the heat developed principally from fission products does not preclude safe reprocessing of nuclear waste later on. The radioactivity of fission products is two orders of magnitude less after 100 years than it is after the first year of removal from the reactor.
Recycling of LWR fuel does not necessarily need to involve a reprocessing step. Fuel cycle tests have demonstrated the viability of the DUPIC fuel cycle, or direct use of spent PWR fuel in CANDU reactors.

In a recent Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article entitled “Reprocessing isn’t the answer,” Richard Garwin states;

• With the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain seemingly dead, reprocessing again is being proffered as a way to deal with U.S. nuclear waste.
• But the reality is that reprocessing neither solves the waste problem nor reduces safety risks.
• Research should continue into next-generation reactors that can burn spent fuel, but until then, dry casks and repositories must be pursued.

Another aspect of this technology is it can eliminate excess weapons plutonium and plutonium from commercial sources in the sidewall or floor of a repository or the lower reaches of a borehole later filled with spent fuel thus eliminating the security risk associated with these materials. It therefore fulfills President Obama’s call to draw down these weapons.

Lord Oxburgh, one of the world’s leading geologists and former British chairman of Shell, has said of the Nuclear Assisted Hydrocarbon Production Method, “I have often myself wondered whether it would be feasible to harness the heat generated by sequestered nuclear materials. I suspect that the major problems might well be political rather than technological.”

The political question is then does America want to resolve it’s energy deficit in a sustainable manner?

August 31, 2009 at 2:14 am
(2) D says:

Shouldn’t have made it in the first place, such dangerous materials that only can serve as weapons or waste.

They should stay right where it was created rather than risk contamination accidents, dumping, processing. The less contact with it the better…so it falls to the developers to have the facilities that should ALREADY be built. This is the problem with Nuclear, they don’t plan ahead to store it, cause it’s so pricey and the structures needed aren’t in place then it’s like, “oh yeah we forgot the waste, oop where should it go? Throw some barrels in the park, noone will notice” …laul

August 31, 2009 at 2:20 am
(3) D says:

Maybe the Yucca underground connects to larger mass-underground networks all over the country. Perhaps there never was real intention to use it as a deposit for nuke waste. Now the waste will stay where it is, scattered across the land, poisoning and being stolen. Creating the problem which will require the solution, except the solution implemented may be dire.

August 31, 2009 at 11:15 am
(4) B Mused says:

It is not technically or legally correct to say that Pres. Obama “pulled the plug” on Yucca in February. He announced his intent to seek a different disposal strategy, yet he included money in the budget to continue the review of the Yucca construction license now before the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I suspect his legal advisors have pointed out that the “approval” of the Yucca site by law in 2002 must be honored unless rescinded by another law. Secondly, an outright cancellation could ratchet up the government’s liability on some breach of contract lawsuits now before the courts.

August 31, 2009 at 11:43 am
(5) B Mused says:

I question your statement of “the problem:”

1. There is not “a lot” of radioactive waste stored around the country; about 60,000 metric tons.
2.Leaving the waste where it is and transporting it somewhere else does not pose public health and national security risks, although a well-designed and managed central facility would be better than the 131 or so ad hoc sites.
3.”No one knows whether we can safely store radioactive waste for that long,” referring to 100,000 years or more, is over-reaching. Yes, I suppose no one “knows” it can be stored that long, but the extensive license application for Yucca shows that the EPA radiation standard can likely be met for that long. It will be up to DOE to convince the NRC that it can.
5. It may be true that “nobody wants the waste” in their backyard, but have we really tried hard enough to gain public support for the idea? Finland and Sweden have taken a different tack and were successful in gaining local support for their disposal sites.

Just to clarify for “D” the nuclear power plant owners did not “forget” about waste when they built their reactors. They were told from the onset that the plan was to reprocess the spent fuel, but Presidents Ford then Carter directed that reprocessing be abandoned. That led to enactment of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 which chose disposal in a geologic repository (actually, two were planned at that time.) Finally, D should understand that the used fuel from reactors is not thrown in some “barrels” in the park, since it is a solid form and heavily shielded.

September 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm
(6) guidoLaMoto says:

In response to Jim: nice numbers. Now go review the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. If it were easy to have built that better mousetrap, it would have been done by now. They call it spent fuel for a reason. There’s still energy left in wood ashes, too, but extracting it isn’t worth it.

To those who feel nuclear energy is unsafe, please review the safety statistics concerning the coal and petroleum industries. Then try a different course to obstruct progress. Is it ultimately safer to store a dangerous commodity in 1 place or in 130 separate places? Why do we keep all the gold in one Fort Knox?

September 2, 2009 at 10:39 am
(7) Jim Baird says:

In response to Guido

Even after five years of cooling in a cooling pond fuel elements would glow red-hot in the atmosphere.

There is more than enough residual heat in these elements to lower the viscosity of bitumen sufficiently to flow it to producing wells. The more gradually this happens the better. The intent is not to produce the entire resource overnight.

In thermodynamic terms the object is to convert this energy to work. And once these elements have given up the bulk of this heat, cycle tests have demonstrated the viability of the DUPIC fuel cycle, or direct use of spent PWR fuel in CANDU reactors.

Some valuable ash?

September 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm
(8) theroyprocess says:

The Roy Process invention to photon transmute
nuclear waste to zero radioactivity and create
electricity was outlawed by president Ronald Reagan
by signing ‘The 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act’this
limited science to ‘burial’ of nuclear waste. So
much for education and solutions. Close enough for
government work, is the mantra!

To see the late Dr. Radha R. Roy, professor of
physics emeritus: put”The Roy Process” in the
Search box on Youtube home page.

September 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm
(9) Gregory Cragg says:

I have a simple inexpensive solution to safely store nuclear and radio active wastes but there is no interest from any of the countries that have nuclear and radio active wastes

September 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm
(10) guidoLaMoto says:

Jim: using the spent fuel “a second time” in a CANDU reactor may improve the over-all energy yield of the fuel, but does it solve the problem of disposal of spent, radioactive fuel? And is it economically efficient? Is there enough harvestable energy left in lower mol wt fission waste products to effectively run a generator?

Regards the Roy Process mentioned above: it involves bombarding the waste products in a linear accellerator. I should think the energy expenditure to do that on an industrial scale would outweight the energy obtained from the fuel in the first place. Any data on that?

September 2, 2009 at 8:56 pm
(11) Jim Baird says:

Guido see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU_reactor

Because the CANDU reactor was designed to work with natural uranium, CANDU fuel can be manufactured from the used (depleted) uranium found in light water reactor (LWR) spent fuel. Typically this “Recovered Uranium” (RU) has a U-235 enrichment of around 0.9%, which makes it unusable to an LWR, but a rich source of fuel to a CANDU (natural uranium has a U-235 abundance of roughly 0.7%). It is estimated that a CANDU reactor can extract a further 30-40% energy from LWR fuel.

September 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm
(12) Jim Baird says:

Guido the Subductive Waste Disposal Method which I patented 20 years ago has been described as the most viable means of disposing of radioactive waste, the state-of-the-art in nuclear waste disposal technology and the ethically most appealing solution to the problem? It has been suppressed ever since on the erroneous grounds it is barred by international agreement. It is not. Sub-seabed repositories accessed from land comply with the London Dumping Convention. (when I included the URLs to these comments my post is rejected.)

The best long-term permeability data for moderately deep systems are to be derived from older rocks carrying significant deposits of oil and gas. Such rocks are invariably of sedimentary origin, and it is for sediments that the most reliable data on fluid flow are at present to be found. The fact that oil and gas, often under significant pressure, are found in these formations is proof of the containment properties of sedimentary rock.
A recently published study notes the unprecedented capacity of bitumen to sequester radioactive materials and 80 percent of Canada’s bitumen is found to deep to mine, beneath a capping shale formation that would preclude either hydrocarbons or radionuclides from migrating to the surface.
If you would like spent fuel could remain there forever after it has produced this bitumen but my thinking is, it is not environmentally sound to waste the residual heat of the spent fuel or the energy in LWR spent fuel.

September 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm
(13) Vandenbosch says:

Energy Secretary Chu plans to have a commission consider alternatives to Yucca Mountain. They may drecommend looking for another repository site, or reprocess spent fuel (which is legal presently) or transmute troublesome isotopes using fast reactors or they may recommend alll three approaches.

September 3, 2009 at 7:50 am
(14) guidoLaMoto says:

Jim: sounds good to me. Are you being blocked by economic, political or ignorant “TreeHugger” concerns?

It would seem to me that deep sea depositories would be the most sound method of disposal:virtually inaccessable to the nefarious and any accidental leakage of material would be released into “desert coditions” and then be quickly diluted to inconsequential proportions.

September 3, 2009 at 9:53 am
(15) Jim Baird says:


Blocked by all of the above plus the “not invented here” problem.

The Subductive Waste Disposal Method does make weapons material inaccessible and is the ultimate disposal system.

I think however there is need of a tremendous economic incentive to get past the problem of NIMBY. Producing one of the world’s largest untapped hydrocarbon reserves, either Alberta’s or the Green River Shale is probably that inducement.

February 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm
(16) Ernest Hardin says:

Jim Baird’s analysis of spent fuel heat output is too high by about 3 orders of magnitude. Take it from me, I (still) work on the Yucca Mountain project and am responsible for the thermal analysis! Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet…

March 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm
(17) Jim Baird says:

I defer to Mr. Hardin’s expertise. In the first comment the 30 to 50 times the amount of heat in the Geysers geothermal reservoir in California is a direct quote from his 1998. paper Near-Field/Altered-Zone Models Report. Milestone report for the CRWMS Management and Operating Contractor, U.S. Department of Energy. UCRL-ID- 129179. SP3100M3. Livermore, California: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The California Geothermal data is from http://www.energy.ca.gov/geothermal/

Perhaps he would kindly elaborate.

July 10, 2010 at 3:06 am
(18) Steve Behling says:

This paper describes a possible solution to several energy problems: Last update 6-15-10

The reason I wrote this paper, is because, for several years now there has been some trial balloons sent up in my area, and I am guessing by people living in the southwest regarding:
Building a pipeline from the great lakes to the southwest. Because of the water shortage in that area, there are more than a few people who have proposed a project of this sort. In my opinion, there is a lower cost way to solve this problem, with less legal and political considerations.

I. This paper can be divided into two sections, if you wish. Nuclear and non-nuclear. For those of you that are nuke haters, simply ignore the nuclear aspect of it, and concentrate on the solar aspects of it.

II. Employing Death Valley to generate electricity at a profit, as well as rock salt, seafood, and an ongoing tax base, as well as creating permanent jobs in the state of California. On a second level, which does not have to be incorporated into the overall concept, a possible solution to the problem of the disposal of rad-waste.

Keep in mind that the United States power grid is the worlds largest invention, employs over a million people, and is kept on line with billions of dollars in revenue on a yearly basis.

One major problem is the lack of fresh water in the west/southwest. The second is what to do with the old reactor cores, that nobody seems to want stored next door to them. Consider this:
I don’t know if you are aware of the so called “Rad-waste-problem” or not. I submit to you that there is no serious problem. A while back I found out that these rad-waste containers or “dry casks,” constructed around old reactor cores, have a skin temperature of up to 350 degrees. This is more than enough to boil water. Because of the politics involved, which I will not go into in this paper, the reactor owners are not allowed to ship the old cores to the Yucca flats burial area. Currently, the result is that the plant operators are encasing the old cores in concrete shells, and storing them out of sight behind the plants, so to speak. It seems plausible to me that boilers, or steam generators could be constructed using these old cores, and put them to good use, generating cash rather than trying to dispose of them.
These dry casks that are piling up all over the United States, and the rest of the world for that matter, which at the moment, nobody wants, could be configured into a low cost giant electrical power plant, or used to heat large buildings directly.
It seems obvious to me, that making an attempt to re-use these old cores would solve several problems at once….. Consider:

1. Cost of reprocessing rad-waste.
2. Solving the rad-waste burial problems.
3. Providing “spot energy” for small users, as these units could be thought of as large water
4. Using rad-waste dry casks in conjunction with solar arrays to manufacture fresh water from
salt water, in Death Valley.
4.1. Generating hydrogen gas, which can be tanked and stored as an energy reserve.
5. Reducing the amount of transmission towers, and related problems of maintaining them.
5.1 Transmission tower design.
6. Can be constructed with off the shelf items.
7. Billions of dollars in savings.
8. As safe or safer than a pebble bed reactor.
9. Are those cooling towers on nuclear plants really needed?
10. A word about coal fired plants.
10.1 A word about decreasing, reusing, or recycling carbon dioxide.
11. Where is all the water going that is melting off the polar ice caps?
12. Fighting fires in California.
13. Raising fish in Death Valley.
14. Dividing up, or parceling out sections of the flooded area to private companies that
specialize in desalination.
15. Creating an inland water mecca.
16. A word on carbon credits.
17. 60 Minutes report on the Death Valley water crisis.
18. This project would be immune to any type of solar flare, or any other negative type of solar
energy that would disrupt or destroy power lines, satellites, phone lines, or cell phone
19. Supporting evidence: If you observe photograph 1 at the end of this paper, you will notice
that the snow is absent around the base of the three casks. The latent heat output is great
enough to boil off snow and water in the middle of winter!
19.-A. Supporting literature includes articles written by others on their viewpoints of nuclear
power. Please note: These authors may or may not agree with my viewpoints.

Item number 1. The United States no longer reprocesses rad-waste to any great extent.This is because of bad planning, bad engineering, and human blunders that damaged and contaminated the processing plants, and made them unusable. Also, the liquid radioactive waste that has leaked out of on site storage tanks hasn’t helped matters much either. Overall, these problems were caused because the amount and types of radiation that is given off from freshly discarded cores, was greatly underestimated. This is because of the “daughter” elements that are created by the fission process. Some of the elements are short lived. For example, the polonium 210 that was used to kill the Russian reporter has a half life of only thirty days. The only way you can you can obtain this element, is to mine a reactor core. At any rate, if the cores are allowed to “cool off” for ten years or so, most of the hard radiation will be greatly reduced. I submit that by creating a “middle step” of harvesting heat from these cores, instead of burying them, will drastically reduce the cost of reprocessing spent cores. Another item that is not widely known, is that between ninety five to ninety seven percent of the energy of the original core is retained in the spent cores. This is what produces the latent heat output. With the price of nuclear fuel rising, it would make a substantial cost savings to reuse old cores.

Item number 2. Solving the rad-waste burial problems. As far as I know, not one single cask of rad-waste has been safely “buried” anywhere in the United States, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Over a billion dollars has been spent on the Yucca mountains burial project, and has went nowhere. Also, the amount of rad-waste that has been created up to this point would more than exceed the tunnel space that has been excavated so far. By the way, have fun trying to convince all the people in the area, that it’s a good idea to live down the street from a high level rad-waste dump. Reusing high level rad-waste would solve this problem. The Yucca mountains people, might not have an objection to having “low level” waste being put into tunnels. Low level waste being, boots, gloves, clothing, respirator masks, and small quantities of short lived rad-waste products, such as hospital rad-waste discards.

Item number 3. Providing “spot energy” for small individual users, as these core units could be thought of as very large water heaters, or heat exchangers…. Another twist to the concept of reusing rad-waste, is that believe it or not, you do not have to use the radioactive material in the old cores to generate electricity, as a reactor does. You can simply place them in a given area to generate heat.
A nuclear power plant, once you remove all the bells and whistles, is simply a giant water heater. The reason why a reactor has to be refueled, is not because it will no longer boil water, its because it will no longer boil water at the design rate of the reactor. Putting it another way… A reactor may have a 100 megawatt design rating. Over time, the power output will fall below this rating as the fuel decays. At some point after this it must be refueled to stay at the 100 megawatt power level. At this point the spent fuel is removed, and placed in a cooling pond separate from the main reactor. This is why most reactors are located next to a river, large lake, or ocean. There is so much waste heat generated, just from these old cores, that to cool the reactor in an emergency, any municipal water source would be inadequate and overwhelmed. In the old days, the spent rods cooled for a time, in these ponds, and then were shipped to a reprocessing plant. As stated earlier, this proved to be a disaster. As a result, spent cores are now gathering dust, so to speak, at nuclear power plants all over the United States, as there is no longer a place to put them The same river water that helps cool the reactor, cools these rad waste core ponds. The result of this whole mishmash, is that much useable energy is being wasted heating bodies of water instead of large buildings.This whole situation could be resolved if the rad-waste was containerized and used at factories or large buildings to provide heat. One other example come to mind. As everyone knows, ethanol and bio-fuel pants are springing up all over the United States. These companies use energy to separate alcohol from water to generate motor fuel. The boiling point of alcohol is about 175 degrees Fahrenheit. This is all the heat you need to complete the processing of ethanol. There are over one hundred ethanol plants in the U.S. alone. Currently, most of these ethanol plants use natural gas to provide the heat input. This not only uses valuable natural gas, it also adds to the overall cost of the ethanol. Using the heat from rad-waste however, changes the situation 180 degrees. In other words, motor fuel can be manufactured at a lower cost, using the dry casks of rad-waste that nobody else wants.

Item number 4. Using the rad waste dry casks to manufacture fresh water from salt water, in Death Valley.
According to all the unsubstantiated gossip I have been hearing over the years, the state of California, as well as most of the southwest, is a drop or two short of fresh water, among other things. Seeing as how Death Valley is 198 feet below sea level, it would be a matter of simple physics to run a pipeline from the Pacific ocean to Death Valley and at least partially fill it with sea water. No pump would be needed, as gravity would provide the siphon action that would be needed. A solar powered desalinating plant, or many plants, could be built at the site to provide distilled water to the rest of the state, and neighboring states. Also, a turbo generator, or more than one, could be placed in the pipeline to generate electricity as a by-product. It would be a simple matter to use conical mirrors to generate all of the heat that you would want, to boil all of the water that you would want, to obtain all of the distilled water that you would want…. And at night, the rad-waste dry casks would take over in place of the sun.
The reason why the desalinating plant should be built in Death Valley, as opposed to a plant on the west coast of California, is because it is located in a much safer area than on the coast. You see, there are no hurricanes in this area, as sometimes occur on the coasts. You may remember the oil rigs that were destroyed off the coasts by destructive tidal waves and hurricanes. I don’t think you would have this problem in the valley. Also, the tree-huggers who live on the coast, would have just one more reason to complain about the scenery. Since few people live near, or visit Death Valley anyway, and it is already on government land, and has an Army base on it, I would say it would be in a safe location to re-use rad waste, or build structures.
One other thing to be considered, is that the whole concept of flooding Death Valley with water can be made as variable proposition. The entire valley does not have to be flooded, for the system to work. As little as fifty feet of water would fill the bill. And before the aforementioned tree-huggers complain that diverting sea water to Death Valley would somehow be destructive to the environment in that area, please have someone in their gang explain to the general public, why the National Public Radio group, caused a documentary to be made about Death Valley, in which several tree-huggers were shown in a low lying area complaining that there wasn’t enough rainfall in the Valley to support the native fish population! No kidding folks! To prove their statements, the camera showed several shots of dying fish flopping around in very shallow water. It seems that not one person in that group could solve that problem!
One last word on the tree-huggers: On one hand they complain when the farmers or other landowners fills in a acre or two of land with clean fill to improve crop yield, or control mosquitoes, and then also complain when other developers going about normal earthmoving activities, create lowlands that retain water from time to time. Along these lines, I propose creating wetland credits, similar to the carbon credits relating to the so called global warming problem. For every mosquitoes infested swamp that is filled in by governmental or private agencies, an equal portion of Death Valley could be flooded as a counter measure. How does that sound? Also please describe a place anywhere on the planet, where a body of water is somehow destructive to the environment. I haven’t found such a place yet!
By the way, here is an added bonus…. And a riddle. When I said the water could be delivered to neighboring states, this could be done for free, ignoring the pipeline costs, by using gravity, and ram pumps. Do you know what I am describing? I don’t think too many people know what a ram pump is.

Item number 4.1. Expanding on the last concept, it would be possible to generate hydrogen gas at the same site. According to a Wall Street Journal article, issued on October 13 – 14, 2007, under the title — Solar Miracle, on page A10 in the opinion page, Congressman Nick Rahall introduced a proposal in Congress for a pilot program to create “strategic solar reserves” on federal lands. These solar reserves would be created along the same lines as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which stores oil for future use. The article goes on to state that, and the following statement was copied from the Wall Street Journal — Last we checked, however, storing solar energy was a slightly more difficult scientific proposition. “I have no idea how that would work,” says University of Maryland physics professor Robert Park. “This is our greatest single problem with energy — figuring out how to store electricity.
Personally speaking, this is a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. You do not have to store electricity directly. You can use the entire Death Valley area as a giant solar collector, to generate electricity, and use it to manufacture hydrogen gas. In Indiana, natural gas is stored in caves. I thought that everyone knew this. I guess not. At any rate, on this concept, it is possible to go two ways at the same time. The Death Valley power generating area, could create hydrogen gas that could be burned directly in power plants, and it could be mixed at the ratio of ten percent with natural gas, which could be used immediately in American homes. For those of you who wonder why I used the ten percent figure on the hydrogen-natural gas mix, I read this from a science report. According to the natural gas industry, one hundred percent pure hydrogen gas cannot be used in a “standard” gas stove without modifying the gas jets. By the way, this is a minor issue. If you lift the top of your gas stove, and look at the back end, you will find another set of jets. These jets are for liquid propane gas. The only further change that would have to be made to the same type of stove, is to include a second set of jets for nearly pure hydrogen gas.

Item Number 5. Reducing the amount of transmission towers, and related weather and maintenance problems to them. As you well know, it costs big bucks to transmit power from one place to another. A large amount of this power is used to keep buildings warm in cold weather. Centrally located bundles of rad waste dry casks could be located near cities to pipe steam to large buildings. This would reduce the loads on large transmission lines. Variations of this concept have already been tried. For example: The Ford auto plant in Detroit had its own coal fired power plant. In emergences, the plant was able to supply the city with power, when the city had power problems with its own power systems.

Item Number 5.1 And while I am at it, the power companies could do a better job in designing high voltage transmission towers. It seems to me that with a slight design change, the same transmission towers could also support an anemometer type of windmill. For those of you who don’t know what an anemometer is, it looks like three ping pong balls cut in half on three rods, rotating on a vertical axis, turning a generator. In other words, it would be very easy to build transmission towers to move power from one place to another, and generate power at the same time. Why haven’t the power companies thought of this? After all, out west, power poles are being equipped with solar panels as an experiment to power street lights, and traffic signals. Why not add a small windmill too?
Along the same lines, according to the Wall Street Journal, in an article printed on 6-31-2009, page A5, the city of New Jersey is outfitting 200,000 utility poles with solar panels to capture solar energy. Also the state is pushing solar panels for industrial buildings with flat roofs. FedEx Corporation is installing solar panels on it’s buildings, to the tune of 2.42 megawatts of electricity, which will supply about 30% of it’s power needs. According to the same article, believe it or not, New Jersey is number 2 in the production in the production in solar power, right behind California!

Item Number 6. Can be constructed with off the shelf items. Furthermore, in a hit and miss fashion, this is already being accomplished. The electrical power system that exists in the United States, is the worlds largest invention. The current costs and payments run into billions of dollars per year. What I am proposing, amounts to cutting costs with no layoffs to power company employees. No new equipment has to be designed, or no different type of metal has to be forged. The nuclear power companies are already encasing the old cores in concrete shells, with no place to store them. Also, the turbo-generators that could be used in the Death Valley pipeline, would be little different then the units that are used in Hoover dam. Another rather large advantage would be small size of such heat generators. Each steam or hot water generator unit would be self contained. It, or they could be placed in remote locations, with little maintenance. Each unit or cluster of units could be used to create live steam or electricity.

Item Number 7. Billions of dollars in savings. First off, let’s stop the thirty years of worthless talk of burying the rad waste in the Yucca mountain area. That idea has went nowhere, and probably never will. According to Wall Street Journal articles on the subject, the amount of rad-waste sitting around nuclear plants, already exceed the amount of burial space created in the tunnels. The fact is, that this material generates heat, and it can be used for lower level heat sources. So why not use it!

Item number 8. As safe or safer than a pebble bed reactor. For those of you people that may have come to the conclusion that this article does not make any sense, what I am proposing is exactly the same thing as the new generation of nuclear reactors, called the pebble bed reactors. In the pebble bed reactor, softball sized uranium pellets are installed in a empty reactor vessel until the proper heat output is obtained. To explain further, in a “standard reactor,” uranium fuel rods are installed in the vessel, and the heat output is regulated, by raising or lowering the control rods. When the heat output drops below a certain level, the reactor has to be taken out of service until new fuel rods can be installed. In a pebble bed reactor, the softball sized spheres can be added until the heat output is at the design level of the reactor. As time passes, and the heat level of the spheres decrease, the old spheres can be removed, and new fresh spheres can be added, while the reactor is in operation. The big advantage of a pebble bed reactor, over a “standard” reactor is that the loss of coolant problem is eliminated. In a “standard reactor,” a loss of coolant leads to a meltdown, in a pebble bed reactor, a loss of coolant causes no problem, as the spheres do not cause reactor floor melting.

Item Number 9. Are those cooling towers on nuclear plants really needed? It seems to me that if there is enough “leftover” heat in the power generating process, that some of it has to be diverted to the atmosphere, there is enough left to generate more electrical power. One does not have to boil water to generate electricity. Other materials can also be used. Frond, for example, can also be used. There are also other elements, such as propane, but for this example, freon is used. There are many different types of freon, and all boil at temperatures of less than 212 degrees. Freon “steam” can also be harnessed to generate electrical power.

Item Number 10. A word about coal fired plants. I haven’t the slightest idea why someone else in the power generation business hasn’t thought of this, but you can greatly reduce the amount of smokestack particle discharge by simply mixing the stack exhaust gases with spare steam. Without going in to great detail, the steam would remove the fly ash, and do an excellent job of cleaning the discharge gases. The same thing happens when crud in the atmosphere gets caught in a thunderstorm. The water vapor condenses on the dust particles, and falls to earth. If this were not true, all of the dust that been put into the atmosphere since the beginning of time, would still be there.
Note: In response to a person who took the time to respond to my ideas by informing me that these cleaning units are called scrubbers, thank you I already realized that. You see I used to weld them together when I worked at Fabricated Steel Company in Michawaka, Indiana From 1968 to 1970. We also did repair work to the old panels. When I inspected the old panels, I noticed that in some cases, rain water had leaked into the scrubbing units. This caused extreme rusting of the panels and the support beams. The support beams were eighteen inch “I” beams one half of an inch thick! When I reported my observations to people from the Wheelabrator Fry Corporation, my comments were ignored! In other words, when I suggested that if the hot exhaust gases could be cooled by steam, or a fine water spray before the smoke entered the scrubbing units, to cut down on the corrosive effect of the gasses, which contain hydrochloric, and sulfuric acid, I was told that I was not old enough to know what I was talking about. Since that time, the Wheelabrator Fry Corporation went bankrupt. Oh well….

Item Number 10.1 This paper does not address the issue of the so called “carbon dioxide buildup” on the earth, because I don’t believe in the global warming crap in the least. Moreover,
nuclear, or solar power plants produce no carbon dioxide. To address the issue of carbon dioxide buildup on the planet, from what I have been reading in various science magazines, there are people who have been creating biomass algae generators, that in the end, create ethanol motor fuel. According to the people who are developing these biomass fuel generators, they work most effectively if pure carbon dioxide is fed into the tanks, rather than room air. The end result is motor fuel, and oxygen. Let me make a suggestion at this point:
To the people that can gather and store carbon dioxide, to the people that can use carbon dioxide to generate motor fuel……..Please contact each other…. Done
Also, this is how our present deposits of peat, oil, and gas, got there in the first place. Most schoolbooks teach that decaying dinosaurs, over the ages, created oil pockets. This is only partially true. Most of the oil was created by the decay of plants and algae.

Item Number 11. For those of you younger people, who are not grounded in history, during World War Two, among other things, the U.S.A. captured an island called Midway. The first thing that we did was bulldoze the island flat. The next thing we did, was to build a weather station on one edge of the island. In doing so, a yardstick was put in the water to measure the sea level. As far as I know, no one in the global warming crowd has never mentioned this. At any rate, when the construction was finished for the aircraft base, the entire island was just a few feet above sea level. The point is, if the water in the oceans is rising, how come this island is not below sea level? Along the same lines, it occurs to me that if any increase of the water level in the ocean, would lead to a corresponding increase in the worlds groundwater supply. Just a thought.

Item Number 12. It occurs to me, that it would be easier to fight fires in California, if there was a more reliable water supply. From my point of view, fires have been burning out of control since 2007. This problem could be reduced by at least a small degree, by having a secure, and protected water supply. A pipeline from the ocean to Death Valley would help out here too. After all you do not have to put fresh water on a fire, sea water would do just fine.

Item Number 13. Although the PBS corporation did a very poor documentary on Death Valley, which I caught by accident in 2008, a young woman in the documentary was describing the problems
that the fish were having in the valley. This caught my attention, because up to that time, I was not aware of any standing water in the valley. As the show went on however, I found out that from time to time, there is an occasional thunderstorm, which results in flash flooding. In the end, what little water there is, flows into a low area which helps the local fish population, as well as other creatures. The problem is, when the water dries up, so do some of the fish. Flooding the area would solve this problem, and the state could receive some revenue from the boaters and fisherman.

Item Number 14. As a general rule of thumb, Death Valley is twenty five miles wide, and one hundred twenty five miles long. Assuming that the valley was flooded to one hundred feet, this would result in a inland lake about a thousand square miles in size, generally speaking. There are also many companies that specialize in the desalination of sea water. What I propose is, that the area could divided into lots, and the private companies could compete with one another to see which one could produce the most water, at the lowest cost.

Item No. 15. Creating an inland water mecca. Can anyone imagine how much money would flow into the California state coffers if an inland lake were to be created in Death Valley? As I said earlier, a one thousand square mile lake — Read, giant hot tub — Would give everybody a lot of elbow room. Private business, and public use could operate side by side.

Item No. 16. Zero carbon emissions. Although I don’t believe in the carbon credit crap game being created by whoever, this entire concept would produce zero carbon emissions. All one has to do, is calculate the amount of fossil fuel that would be used to desalinate however much water that all the solar arrays and rad-waste containers managed to generate in a certain amount of time. This would of course, give the state of California a negative carbon footprint, at least in that area.

Item No. 17. According to 60 minute report aired on 12-27-09, there is a plan afoot to spend 40 billion dollars to solve the water problem in California. Of this, eleven billion will be spent on the creation of new dams, and the rest….That is 29 billion, is to be spent repairing levies and other things. The show also filmed people building a pipeline. I hope the people who are planning that project realize that for it to work, rain water must fall in the first place. Since I live in In Indiana, instead of California, I am not familiar with the annual rainfall in that area. Rather than building pipelines and dams, and then sitting back and praying for rain. Why not flood Death Valley? I don’t think it would cost 40 billion dollars to run a pipeline from the Pacific ocean to Death Valley. Do you?

Item No. 18. Unlike conventional nuclear, coal, or gas power plants, this system would be immune to any electro-magnetic pulse, or negative solar activity.

Item No. 19A.

The following article was written by William H. Tucker.
From the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal. 3-29-10
There Is No Such Thing as Nuclear Waste
“White House Buries Yucca,” read the headlines last week after Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said the proposed storage of nuclear waste in a Nevada mountain is “no longer an option.”
Instead, Mr. Chu told a senate hearing, the Obama administration will cut all but the most rudimentary funding to Yucca and be content to allow spent fuel rods to sit in storage pools and dry casks at reactor sites “while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal.
Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a longtime opponent of the repository, was overjoyed. Environmental groups were equally gratified, since they have long seen Yucca Mountain as a choke point for asphyxiating nuclear energy. Greenpiece immediately called for an end to new construction of nuclear power plants, and for all existing reactors to be closed down.
So is this really the death knell for nuclear power? Not at all. The repository at Yucca Mountain was only made necessary by our failure to understand a fundamental fact about nuclear power: There in no such thing as nuclear waste.
A nuclear fuel rod is made up of two types of uranium: U-235, the fissionable isotope whose breakdown provides the energy; and U-238, which does not fission and serves basically as packing material. Uranium-235 makes up only 0.7% of the natural ore. In order to reach “reactor grade,” it must be “enriched” up to 3%–an extremely difficult industrial process. (To become bomb material, it must be enriched to 90%, another ballgame altogether.)
After being loaded in a nuclear reactor, the fuel rods sit for five years before being removed. At this point, about 12 ounces of U-235 will have been completely transformed into energy. But that’s enough to power San Francisco for five years. There are no chemical transformations in the process and no carbon-dioxide emissions.
When they emerge,the fuel rods are intensely radioactive–about twice the exposure you would get standing at ground zero at Hiroshima after the bomb went off. But because the amount of material is so small–it would fit comfortably in a tractor-trailer–it can be handled remotely through well established industrial processes. The spent rods are first submerged in storage pools, where a few yards of water block the radioactivity. After a few years, they can be moved to lead-lined casks about the size of a gazebo, where they can sit for the better part of a century until the next step is decided.
So is this material “waste”? Absolutely not. Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite table-tops, stone buildings and the coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth’s crust. It could be put right back into the ground where it came from.
Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235–which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business. Unfortunately, we must import all our tracer material from Canada, because all of our isotopes have been headed for Yucca Mountain.
What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have been yet found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains–from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy–beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague.
The supposed problem of “nuclear waste” is entirely the result of a decision in 1976 by President Gerald Ford to suspend reprocessing, which President Jimmy Carter made permanent in 1977. The fear was that agents of foreign powers or terrorists groups would steal plutonium from American plants to manufacture bombs.
That fear has proved to be misguided. If foreign powers want a bomb, they will build there own reactors or enrichment facilities, as North Korea and Iran have done. The task of extracting plutonium from highly radioactive material and fashioning it into a bomb is far beyond the capacities of any terrorist organization.
So shed no tears for Yucca Mountain. Instead of ending the nuclear revival, it gives us the chance to correct a historical mistake and follow France’s lead in developing complete reprocessing for nuclear material.
Mr. Tucker is author of ” Terrestrial
Energy: How Nuclear Power Will
Lead The Green Revolution and End
America’s Long Energy Odyssey”
(Bartleby, 2008).

The following article was written by Laura Harnish
From the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal.
It’s not about fish, it’s about market fairness. In California’s water rights system, farmers on one side of the Central Valley pay less than $10 for an acre-foot of water (enough water to cover an acre one-foot deep), while those on the other side are forced to pay up to 60 times more–$600 an acre-foot–to keep trees alive.
What is needed is a new and fair set of market-based rules, created by water stakeholders and California’s government, that can spawn new industries and new job, while intelligently allocating the state’s water to serve agriculture, cities and suburbs, recreational users and nature.
Laura Harnish
Regional Director
Environmental Defense Fund
San Francisco

The following email was mailed to me on 10-16-2007, in response to the email I sent to the governor of California during the previous week. Keep in mind that his response was referring to an earlier draft of this paper, which was less detailed, but essentially the same.

Thank you for emailing and sharing your views. California was built by the ingenuity and hard work of people who had the courage to put pen to paper and ideas into action. Our great State continues to thrive because of the involvement and commitment of its people. As your Governor, I greatly appreciate receiving input from my constituents. Taking the time to communicate your opinions and offer suggestion is essential to good government. Your concern shows that California’s people are engaged in the issues that affect the well-being of our State. Sincerely, Arnold Schwarzenegger. 10-16-2007-7:57 P.M. received.

In summation, what I am proposing, is a alterative to the idea of running a pipeline from the great lakes to the southwest. At a lower cost, a pipeline could be run from the Pacific ocean to Death Valley. An area that is currently being mostly unused. A badly needed tax base could be created, by creating a inland lake. Electrical energy could be created, as well as hydrogen gas, rock salt, and a fishing industry. And if anybody is concerned about it, old rad-waste cores could be stored there, at a profit.

Thank you for your attention.
Steve Behling,
56270 Chapel Lane,
South Bend, Indiana, United States of America.
My space corner, StevesHints/myspace.com.
Blogger.com corner, Nuclearideas.
Published by Jarte word processor. Jarte.com

Note: As of 10-31-07, The National Academy of Sciences has blocked my E-Mails, no
explanation, no response, no debate. And here I thought a scientific organization, welcomed
new ideas!
As of 1-30-10, the so called 60 Minutes T.V. show has not responded to my paper.
As of 3-25 10, the Serra Club has not responded to my letter.
As of 3-27-10, the Union of Concerned Scientists has not responded to my letter.
As of 3-31-10, Greenpiece has not responded to my letter.
As of 5-30-10, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, has not responded to my letter.
Anyone can send a copy of this article to anyone they want, so long as there is no editing of the
copy. And remember, I have the only master copy!

Photograph 1

Stop and think about this photograph. How much do you think it would cost you on a yearly bases, to heat three concrete slabs warm enough to melt snow, and to evaporate the water. And this is just the heat that is seeping into the concrete slabs from the bottom of the casks. Don’t forget, the whole cask is the same temperature, and the rest of the heat is simply heating up the atmosphere for no good reason!

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